Dancing With Our Local Schools Event – Spring Showcase May 29, 2015 Hosted by La Reina High School

What a great time we all had at the Dancing With Our Local Schools event. We feel very lucky about a few things I am happy to share with you right off the bat! This is our Fifth Annual Dancing With Our Local Schools (DWOLS) showcase! We dance with joy and so appreciate the opportunity to showcase our event at this incredible 900 sq. ft. auditorium so kindly offered to us by the Plant Administrator for La Reina High School, Laird Wilson. This is our third time in a row and we couldn’t be happier about finding such a perfect place to showcase our DWOLS event. And to top that off, Dance 4 Wellness has a great team that helps to decorate and we are most grateful to all of our friends who volunteer their time at these events to make them all the more special. There are quite a few of you now, and we are most appreciative to you for your efforts. We also feel very happy and fortunate when you honor what we do and you cherish your children by contributing to our cause with $5.00. A small gesture makes a huge impact that has a snowball effect, and we are deeply grateful to our friends, parents and sponsors for helping to make this event successful. We are eternally grateful and always happy about two beautiful hearts that belong to two incredibly generous ladies: Maria Durant of Dance 4 Wellness as well as Fordney Foundation’s founder, Marilyn Fordney. Now you know a few things that make us happy – so let’s continue on with our event so you can see for yourself “why we are so happy” and it even gets better from here!

No DWOLS showcase would be complete without our Co-Founder and Program Director Maria Durant as our Master of Ceremonies. Maria had a few heart-warming things to say about our dance program and how it affects the students in a positive way. Some of these things are discouraging reckless acts, better problem solving and that dance is the “universal language of the soul.”

We then heard from Mrs. Marilyn Fordney. Mrs. Fordney invited Randy Whitfield of Telos Capital Management to be her guest on behalf of the Fordney Foundation, to personally thank him and his team for helping raise funds through investments since 2002! Also, Mrs. Fordney announced our new sponsorship with American DanceWheels Foundation. ADF is an organization for disabled dancers in wheelchairs. They train in American Style Wheelchair Ballroom and Latin Dance. Many of these gifted dancers have appeared in dance competitions and Cirque du Soleil. We are proud to be sponsoring ADF in the Pan American Games this July in Toronto. The Pan Am Games are the third largest sporting event in the world, only surpassed in size by the Summer Olympics and Asian Games. ADF found the Fordney Foundation through Sam Sodano, who is considered the king of dance competitions in the U.S., and our partner in the Ohio Star Ball’s “Fordney Foundation Junior and Youth Dancesport Series.” We are happy to be associated with this fine foundation and we welcome ADF to the Fordney Foundation!

It is now time to meet our super dance instructors. Our lead instructor is Erica Arnold. Erica has been a featured dancer in both the Opening and Closing Ceremonies of the 2002 Winter Olympics. We also have Todd Hansen as our substitute teacher. In 2009, he and his partner competed both Standard Ballroom and Latin, becoming one of the top 24 Couples in the USA. Both of these people are an asset to our program and the children relate to Erica and Todd very well.

Our first school to dance was Westlake Hills Elementary. They were 5th graders doing a Salsa and a Night Club Two Step. We all truly enjoyed them and want to especially applaud the boys who never danced with this school before and came to help the extra girls dance in this class. Bravo!

Conejo Elementary 4th graders were next. They did a Merengue, Cha-Cha and Swing. Then came a second set of dancers from Conejo and we all had a grand time watching these dancers do these dances.

EARTHS Magnet performed with our youngest group of the night. These 3rd graders did the Hustle and the Merengue. There was also a second set of girls that performed from this school. Everyone did a good job.

Glenwood Elementary was up next. We are happy to welcome them to our event, this was their first time in our program! These 4th and 5th graders with a second group too, performed the Cha-Cha, Salsa and Hustle. Yay!

River Oaks Academy showed us an interesting side of dance. They came out with a bit of original dance choreography that was really good. The children were from 8 to 16 years old and the youngest performed for the first time at the showcase. You guys rocked.

Principal Juan Santos of Maple Elementary and Dena Sellers, Principal of Conejo Elementary spoke to the audience about how important it is to continue a program like this. These two principals have seen through this dance program how much better the children relate to each other, how they develop better skills and how comfortable they become with each other. They thanked the parents for participating and supporting their children in this program.

It was then back to our DWOLS program and Maple Elementary was up next. They did the Cha-Cha, Rumba and Triple Swing (a slower Swing). There were two sets of students and they were terrific.

Westlake Hills Elementary’s 5th graders were next. They did the Salsa, Night Club Two Step and a Waltz. Very cool!

We then were treated to the Dance 4 Wellness group! These young dancers started to dance in October 2014 and did a great job performing the Salsa and Tango. We look forward to seeing more of them dance in the future.

Mike and Mia were next on the agenda. This was a brother and sister duo with their debut performance of Cha-Cha and Samba. They were adorable and quite good and have been dancing for only a couple of months! They will be entering their first competition shortly. Wow, we were impressed!

Talking about major talent in young people, next to perform were the dance team of Monet Pinkett and Loren Silverman. These two 12 year olds have only been dancing together for a couple of years. They are incredible together and proved it (once again) by introducing a couple of brand new routines. They were stunning in their black and white outfits while doing their creative routines to Michael Jackson’s music. So fitting, excellent and inspiring. These two young dancers have already won 1st place at Ohio Star Ball, during the 1st annual “Fordney Foundation Junior and Youth Dancesport Series.” They have already won a $4,000 scholarship and I’m sure we’ll be seeing them again soon on the circuit.

Principals Juan Santos and Dena Sellers were back again with a fun routine of Dion’s song Runaround Sue with the addition of Todd Hansen in tow. They did a super fun swing and everyone laughed and enjoyed them very much. It only proves how infectious dance really is, even the principals get into it!

To congratulate all of our schools for their excellent participation in our DWOLS program, each student in the program received a beautiful medal provided by Mrs. Fordney. Thank you too, to all of our volunteers who helped give out medals.

We then had a Raffle/Give Away and fabulous prizes were given away: dance lessons, sweaters, backpacks and skin products. Congratulations to all of our friends who won prizes. Then we had some time for Line Dancing and anyone who felt like dancing could come up and dance.

If you enjoyed our DWOLS program and would like to get involved, our Fall Semester Program begins September 14, 2015. If your school would like to receive this opportunity, please contact Maria Durant, Program Director at: (805) 991-6113. Maria is also a good contact if you wish to volunteer your time and ideas. The “gift of dance” provides children with a healthy outlet for self-expression and creativity as well as exercise through music and ballroom dance. It can become the treasure of a lifetime!

We would like to thank all of the participants for making DWOLS so successful and so much fun each semester. We love working with all of the teachers and principals of each school and appreciate their dedication to our program. We thank you so much friends and parents for being there to support the children. Our thrill comes from seeing the pleasure on your faces when you see your child gets up there and dance! Of course we have to thank Erica Arnold and Todd Hansen for making all that happen, you are awesome! A big “thank you” to the co-founder of Fordney Foundation, Sandor (Alex) Havasi, for taking pictures of this event and to Brian Pinkett for handling the video camera. Again, we would like to thank Laird Wilson, Michael Bates and La Reina High School for their “gift of giving” us their wonderful school for the evening. We love it here!! There are also many of you out there that volunteer your time and energy to our program. It is so appreciated and we cannot do it without you, a big THANK YOU!!! It is also an honor to work with our sponsors – we appreciate you for being there for us!

A huge “thank you” goes out to our wonderful MC, Ms. Maria Durant of Dance 4 Wellness, Co-Founder and Program Director, who generously gives of herself in so many ways to make sure our DWOLS program happens. Our showcase was superb and it was thanks to you and Mrs. Marilyn Fordney, Founder of Fordney Foundation. Your partnership has allowed over 4,000 children in our community schools to be given the opportunity to enrich their lives through dance, music, art and so much more. We hope your beautiful vision will continue for many years, thank you for the experience!

Thought Of The Week:

While I dance I cannot judge, I cannot hate, I cannot separate myself from life. I can only be joyful and whole. That is why I dance. – Hans Bos


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Shane Meuwissen is the Media Specialist for Fordney Foundation.  He is a former dance instructor who know works with his company Slow Motion Dance Videos capture the beauty of dancing. If you would like to learn more about Shane and his video work, visit his website https://slowmotiondancevideos.com/